Letter: Let’s talk about zoning reform

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Editor,

I am a young resident who is concerned about how the city is developing the Central District and the discourse surrounding it. I believe that densifying is good for Carmel in the long term. However, I disagree with solely using corporate developers to create it. Can we encourage density without relying on big companies to build it all?

Nowhere in the discourse between the city and the Johnson Addition (residents) have I heard zoning reform being mentioned. Most of the neighbors cite the strict zoning code as reasons why the new houses that are a part of the AT&T development should not be built. To me this is so backwards. We want to encourage density, but also allow for people to build it in their own way.

If the city were to relax the Central District zoning, families could build duplexes and corner-stores-with-homes-on-top in our neighborhoods again, creating that small town feel like in the old days of the 1900s. I recently read a book by the Carmel Clay Historical Society that talks about how Main Street used to have a barber shop, bakeries, dress makers, general, hardware and drug stores, but now all it has are ice cream shops and leasing agents. Remember when we used to have that laundromat off of Range Line? What we have now is either a developer pushing for huge projects, or (projects with) just single-family homes.

Businesses like Laser Flash and Reggae Jamaican Grill are being pushed out for these huge projects. We need to relax the zoning codes so that our local business owners can build their restaurants and groceries in our neighborhoods. It would make them competitive with the big mixed-use developments and drive down rent prices in those buildings. It would also benefit us by having corner stores in our neighborhoods!

The fight between density and single-family homes makes me afraid for my friends and me, as our future for home ownership does not look promising. Not letting families build denser housing drives up housing prices to extreme levels and creates a messy, unstable market. Will we not be able to afford a house in our hometown because of these policies?

Riley Choe, Carmel

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